Sri Lanka: Vanni Tamils – refugees within the refugee camps

United struggle needed for liberation

“The recent rains have flooded the tightly packed tents in the Vanni camps, in the north of Sri Lanka. Tens of thousands of Tamil-speaking refugees now have nowhere to go. They have been made refugees once again – this time within the camps that are supposed to shelter the thousands displaced by the recent horrific war.

“How was the government was blind to the facts that the rainy season would come now and that conditions in the camps are totally inadequate to deal with flooding? Government officials in the region should have known about this and could have predicted the repercussions, which even a child could work out. The whole world knows that these camps lack basic facilities, but to mention this in the south of Sri Lanka is forbidden!

”Unnacceptable conditions” in Tamil detention camps

“At least 300,000 people are forcefully being kept in the detention camps. Even the government figures state that there are 274,515 displaced people. Among them, 252,214 were in the camps in Vanni, and 4,329 are in hospital. These government figures don’t give a complete picture. However, even by the government’s own admission, at least 31,000 children are being kept in these camps. There is only one toilet for every 200 refugees. 30% suffer from malnutrition. There are no adequate medical facilities available and diseases, such as jaundice, are spreading fast.

“The USP has learnt that the Rajapakse government is planning a new settlement of Sinhala people in the east and north, where Tamil-speaking people have been in a majority. It aims to build several strategic military camps before it allows the Tamils to return back to their homes. We are also horrified to learn that this brutal, chauvinist government aims to create a ‘multi-racial’ society in the north! This government is totally insensitive to the cause of the 30-year long war that has cost the lives of thousands of innocent Tamils. This government, despite its claims of ‘victory’, has, so far, worsened the conflict rather than solving it.

“After announcing the end of the war, the government stated that it would resettle internally displaced people (IDPs) within 180 days. Now, more than 100 days have passed. If they are serious about their promise, the majority of these refugees must be allowed to return back to their homes. But, not only are they still kept in worsened conditions, but there have been numerous deaths in the camps. A number of people suspected of being members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have ‘disappeared’. Deaths and disappearances are the secret behind the government’s continued refusal to allow any visitors to these camps.

“Even members of parliament were refused entry to the camps. Permission requested through the courts continues to be postponed, as orders clearly come from the government.

“The Vanni camps only reflect a cross section of the current crisis. The Tamil national question has a history of more than sixty years. The thirty-year war was its high point. Since independence, the Sinhala capitalist class has given no consideration to the national aspirations of the Tamil masses or to the Tamil-speaking Muslim masses. Neither the United National Party (UNP), the main pro-capitalist party, nor Rajapakse’s party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) can ever solve these problems. History also proves that the problem will not be solved by means of guerrilla warfare. Only by defeating the capitalist government in the south can the Tamils obtain their rights. We must unite with the left forces in the south to fight for just that.

“In the current climate, it may not be obvious that fighting alongside the left in the south is the way to win Tamil rights. But it is this left who continues to fight for Tamil rights, even under extreamly dangerous life-threatening conditions. To defeat the chauvinist, capitalist government and to liberate the Tamil-speaking people we must unite in struggle. Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and up-country workers and poor must come together to fight for change in society. The United Socialist Party is fighting for that change.”

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